11 Design Tips from Craig & Karl

Our part-time class in Shillington New York recently enjoyed a thoroughly entertaining and inspiring talk from illustration royalty Craig & Karl. The design duo are one part New York, one part London and since combining forces they’ve taken on a string of amazing jobs for clients such as Musée de la Publicité (Paris), Google, Nike, Apple and Vogue. 

Throughout the talk we gathered their points of advice for junior designers. Read on to hear about the importance of personal projects, how focusing on the bigger picture is key and why having a point of view will give you that much needed point of difference. 

“Illustrations should be fast and furious, not something to be coveted”

  1. Stay with a few core themes
    We try to keep our work within few main themes. They are colour, pattern and optimism. These themes are what we measure our work against, no matter what we do. This consistency has been important throughout our career in developing a style, and also new work.
  2. Stick to your morals
    Be careful and selective with who you work with.
  3. Make time for Personal projects
    Personal Projects are essential in diversifying our style. We don’t want to be trapped drawing black outlines for the rest of our lives. We send each other examples of new personal work that we have been doing on the side – so it’s kind of like a little surprise in your inbox. These examples are central to developing new approaches to the direction our commercial work takes.
  4. Focus on the bigger picture
    When designing or illustrating, focus on the bigger picture. Its easy to get caught up in tiny details, but it’s important to try your best to look wide, at the entire image. Don’t get lost in the small stuff.
  5. Don’t be precious
    Illustrations should be fast and furious, not something to be coveted.
  6. Always try to push your client
    If you can push the client, do it. Always say that you’d like to do more, or ask to be more involved in the project. They will likely love it.
  7. Say yes
    We always say yes to a project from the outset, and once we’ve found out a little bit more about it, we can back out if we need to. But always yes initially.
  8. Be disciplined
    Work work work. Self initiated work doesn’t ever become easier, even after 20 years, but it’s essential, so do it.
  9. Have a point of view
    Have your own voice, know what makes you different. This will translate into a cohesive body of work.
  10. Get your work out there
    Even if you are embarrassed or not sure, it’s incredibly important to just put your work out. I have like a kind of secret side project called Darcel Disappoints. It’s more of a feeling-based kind of self indulgent space to draw and it’s taken a life of its own even bringing in work for big clients and collaborations. Eg. Collette, a french fashion label and Mira Mikati
  11. Be observant
    Train your mind to be constantly observing. Everything that you see is a potential inspiration.

Huge thanks to Craig and Karl for their visit. Want to see more? Check out their full online portfolio. Keep up to date with their projects on Instagram and follow their news feed on Twitter

We have regular visits from lots of inspiring industry figures at all of our Shillington Campuses. Read about more of our past Industry Talks and stay tuned for reports on future visits.